In honor of the new year and the new decade, we've put together our list of the top twenty sewing misdemeanors we all try to get away with when we think no one is looking. But this year, we're resolving to kick these bad habits to the curb. True, the sewing police aren't going to haul us away for these minor infractions, but they are the little no-nos and uh-ohs that should go the way of last year's fake dirty jeans (really... you'd pay for that?!) Which of these are you guilty of? What other ones would you add?
Mistakes happen to the best of us. Anyone who sews understands that some seams just weren't meant to be. The good news: ripping out a seam and starting over is something we all do. With a little care and patience, it's an easy fix and no one but you is ever likely to know it happened. The majority of woven fabrics, such as the popular quilting cottons, are very forgiving; a ripped-out and re-done seam is rarely noticeable on the finished project. It's better to start over if your first attempt fails. You'll always be happier in the end.
By definition, topstitching is a seam that appears on the right side of a project, usually running ⅛" or more from, and parallel to, another seam. It can be done in a coordinating thread color for decoration or a matching thread color for stabilization. A cousin of topstitching is edgestitching, which is defined as a row of stitching on the very edge of a garment, normally ⅛” or less from the edge. It provides a crisp edge for facings, collars, pockets or any situation where you want a tight, professional finish along a seamed edge. Edgestitching is usually done in thread to match the fabric but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Whether for embellishment or assembly, stitching that is visible from the right side is an important detail and its precision can make or break the final outcome of your project. We've collected our favorite tools and techniques to help you achieve tip top topstitching and enviable edgestitching.
Do you ever watch those TV hospital shows and think, "I could do that"? Maybe not be an actual, real-life doctor. But you could wear a white coat, carry a stethoscope, and yell, "Get me a C-Spine, Chem 7, and a V-Fib!" I have no idea what any of those terms mean. They're just fun to shout. To get you just a little bit closer to your doctor daydreams, we're here to show you how one of the medical devices you saw Dr. Greene use every week can also be a big help in your sewing room. It's called a hemostat, and it's basically a locking clamp shaped like a long pair of scissors. (Probably what Dr. Greene wanted when he yelled, "Clamp!") A hemostat is extremely useful when you need to turn long, narrow tubes right side out.
The stars do not always align. The square peg does not fit the round hole. Sometimes the perfect webbing or strapping you’ve selected for a shoulder bag or similar project is simply too darn wide for the D-ring or Swivel Hook you really want/need to use. Try this quick trick to bring your wide webbing down to size.
We call this a "flat top" zipper. We've also heard it referred to as a set-in zipper and a recessed zipper. You can make up your very own name; the Penelope Zipper would be one option. You've undoubtedly seen this type of zipper on loads of handbags and totes. It sits below the top of the bag, running flat across the top (thus the vote for my name), featuring tabs at either end (to hold on to, making it easy to zip open and shut), and is secured to the bag's lining with a simple facing (which is what allows it to be recessed). When you want a professional look plus the security of a full closure, you can't go wrong with the inset-flat top-set-in-recessed-Penelope zipper. Read on to see how easy it can be.
You may be familiar with darts as those pointy things you throw at a dartboard on the wall of your favorite pub. Although they don't fly, darts in sewing are still vital components of the overall sewn project. For the most part, sewing darts look quite similar to their gaming counterpart. They are wide on one end and pointy on the other. Pub darts are all about a smooth trajectory and pinpoint accuracy. Sewing darts are also big on smooth lines and precise points, but their function is all about shape. No matter what kind of sewing you do, sooner or later, you will likely have to sew a dart. Throwing darts... you can do on your own time.
Did you ever have one of those cute little wind-up toys? It's so fun to watch as it tick-tock walks across the floor. But what happens when it comes to a wall? Can it turn left or right or even stop? No! It just keeps going, ka-wonking its little toy head against the wall over and over and over. It's a little like the decorative stitch. As long as you're going straight, all is well. The pattern is pretty, the thread is colorful, it's adding an amazing accent to your project. Then the corner approaches. If making a turn with a decorative stitch has you ka-wonking your own little head against the wall, we're here to help with several ways to take a turn for the better.
Want to know the long and the short of this classic technique?! Making an adjustable strap can seem like a magic rope trick with all the weaving and threading this way and that. But, it’s really quite easy and makes the strap so much more useful. Lengthen to wear cross body, shorten for a shoulder strap or to hand carry. The technique also works great for instrument straps. We show you the all the steps, using handy Dritz hardware.
Buttons, whether functional or just decorative, are a favorite element on Sew4Home projects, but we know you start rolling your eyes when you think about having to break out the needle and thread to sew on button after button. For some reason, button-sewing is stuck in our psyche as a dreaded, time-consuming task. We’re here to tell you that it need not be true! Read on to learn our favorite, super speedy, five-step process to perfect buttons.